Increased radiation in Carlsbad not related to WIPP leak

Carlsbad, N.M. (KRQE) – New air sampling data from the Department of Energy shows a major radiation increase in Carlsbad and around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Six of the seven department’s air monitoring stations including the one inside Carlsbad city limits had higher radiation levels in March than in Feb. when the leak happened.

Still, officials say there’s no public health threat.

“They’re at no consequence level,” said Nuclear Waste Partnership Communications Manager Donavan Mager.

According to the DOE, the radiation detected inside city limits is not related to the WIPP leak.

“This is normal activity you would see even if WIPP had not been here,” said Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center Director Russell Hardy. “If WIPP were three states away you would see this.”

Hardy says the air filters in Carlsbad tested negative for the type of radiation that was leaked at the WIPP site.

He says high wind speeds are causing natural radiation found in the Earth’s soil to land on the filters.

“This is not man-made stuff, but God-made stuff that’s in the ground that’s getting blown around,” said Hardy.

Like the DOE and WIPP officials, Hardy says the public has nothing to worry about.

“Listen to the science. Try not to get your scientific lesson from the internet.” he said. “Listen to what the experts are telling you. This is safe.”

Officials say every spring they see radiation levels increase because of the high winds.

They say this year it’s only getting attention because of the recent radiation leak. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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